The tote bag is a much safer option than other bags that tourists tend to use, according to this Twitter user. 

When you’re traveling, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your valuables, and that means picking the right bag to take with you while sightseeing. You can get high-end bags specifically designed for travel, like cross-body bags made with rugged straps that are hard to cut, lockable zippers, and RFID chip-scanner blocking material, but Japanese Twitter user and world traveler Hiko (@hiko_GK) says you don’t need any of that; you can travel safely using just a plain old tote bag.

“I’ve been to ten countries on my own and I have never once been pick-pocketed, and I think it’s because I use the flimsy-looking tote bags you get at grocery stores. You can carry them under your armpit and twist your hand in the straps, and it stays close to your body, so it’s hard for someone to slip their hand in and take your stuff. Plus, it makes you look like a local. Cross-body bags are made to store your valuables, so pickpockets will go for those first.”

Although slightly counter-intuitive, it does seem plausible that tote bags are a good travel solution. Using an eco-bag, as supermarket tote bags are called in Japan, is probably a surefire way to make yourself look like less of a target, which is a major way to avoid being pickpocketed in a foreign country. And it is true that tote bags have narrow openings that are close to your body, so it would be harder for a pickpocket to slip their hand in and take something.

▼ Carrying a baguette in your bag will probably help too, depending on where you are, of course.

Hiko adds that crossbody bags are often targeted because of their straps, which can be thin and easy to cut with a box cutter. A tote bag, on the other hand, may have thin straps, but it also has two straps, so even if a thief manages to cut one, they won’t be able to snatch the whole bag in one go!

Some bags do have thicker straps that are more resistant to cutting, but even in that case, thieves can still find a way to snatch your valuables:

“I saw one of my fellow travelers get pickpocketed right before my very eyes. They were wearing a cross-body bag, and even had a fake wallet in it to confuse thieves, but the pickpocket went right past that to the real wallet in the zipper pocket. Wow…scary! The pickpocket was in a group of people of different ages and looked like they were traveling in a family, so no one would ever have noticed.”

Of course, Hiko doesn’t know if they truly weren’t targeted because of the tote bags, or if they were just lucky, a concession they admit in follow-up tweets. “I might even have only been safe because the people around me were wearing cross-body bags,” they add. Either way, though, the tote bags got them safely through their travels, and they’ll continue to swear by them.

▼ Hiko used this kind of tote bag while traveling (Golden Kamuy manga for scale).

Japanese netizens seemed to agree that using tote bags is a pretty good idea, and even had other useful tips for blending in with the crowd when traveling:

“I feel the same way! I feel like people always pointed me out as a Japanese person when I wore a cross-body bag or fanny pack. “You also look like a native if you go empty-handed wearing a plain T-shirt and jeans.”
“I purposely try to wear sandals when I’m walking around in a local town. Looking like a native is effective at preventing pickpocketing.”
“I knew an upperclassmen who studied abroad for a short while. They said that carrying your wallet in your hand was best, like a real native. That might be an extreme example, though.”
“I bought a thin tote bag from a museum I visited and hid my cross-body bag under my coat. I think the other tourists thought I was a local and they made space for me in the street, so I was never targeted!”

While, personally, I don’t think I could use tote bags because I will end up putting way too much stuff in it and never be able to find my wallet–which, in fact, is another plus for its travel safety–this could be a great option for those who don’t usually carry all that much! Hiko adds that buying them at a local supermarket is part of the fun, so it might be worth trying out.

It’s also worth noting that 100-yen stores have lots of cute varieties of tote bags and eco-bags for sale, so if you take a trip to Japan–where you don’t usually have to worry about thieves or pickpockets–you can get some for your future trips. And while you’re there you can also buy some of the other useful travel goods they have on sale. When in doubt, Daiso has your back!

Source: Twitter/@hiko_GK via Hachima Kikou
Featured Image: Twitter/@hiko_GK
Insert Image: Pakutaso